Like darts … only better
September 9-15, 2019
By Cait Smith
Lift your arms above your head, get a good grip, take a deep breath and throw that axe. Yeah, that’s right, not a ball or dart but an axe. The new phenomenon known as axe throwing has made it to Little Rock and is gaining a large following. Civil Axe Throwing sits on Markham Street – a recently opened business offering safe and fun axe throwing sessions to the public. Scott Brewster, vice president of sales and marketing for Civil Axe Throwing proclaims it’s a must-try experience. “I recommend everyone to give it a chance because it’s a unique experience. It’s like darts on steroids,” he said.
While throwing an axe at a bullseye seem uncommon, it has been around for about 13 years. Originating out of Canada, a group of friends were bored, so they decided to throw an axe at a stump as a way to pass time. Little did they know that what they did would soon evolve into the creation of a worldwide sport. Among the friends was Matt Wilson, who continued the axe throwing capade by setting up a target in his backyard and creating a point system for him and his friends to engage in competitions. As the number of people in his backyard grew, so did the leagues. This lead to the creation of the Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL). For the sake of noise and limited outdoor space, operations were moved inside. Before they knew it, the recreational sport gained national exposure.
Such influence reached all over the world as other companies began opening their own axe throwing locations like Civil Axe Throwing. Owners Jorge and Erin Lima noticed the trend coming onto the scene and they wanted to know more. “They [Jorge and Erin] spoke to the National Axe Throwing Federation about running an axe throwing business. [...]. They noticed how vast the opportunity was because it really wasn’t in the market at the time,” explained Brewster. The couple jumped the gun and opened the first Civil Axe Throwing location in Huntsville, Alabama in 2017. Their first opening turned out to be a success, so the couple didn’t stop there. By the time the fourth location opened, Brewster was hired to oversee the sales and marketing of Civil Axe Throwing.
“We hit the ground running in these four short months. So far, we’ve opened up five new locations. I predict by the end of the year, we’ll be anywhere between 15 and 16 stores,” Brewster said.
While the Civil Axe Throwing company has grown, Brewster described their main concern aside from expansion is attracting people to take part. More recently, videos have surfaced of axes bouncing back off the targets, causing people to reconsider trying the sport. However, Civil Axe Throwing follows the guidelines of the National Axe Throwing Federation (NATF) when it comes to their set up.
According to the NATF, there should be four throwing lines painted on the ground to ensure throwing distances and safety in the colors red, black, blue, and yellow.
– The red foot fault line serves as a safety mechanism to ensure players remain a minimum distance from target while throwing. The player must remain behind this line until both throwers have completed their throw.
– The black line aka the standard throwing line is where players must position themselves for competitive throwing.
– The blue line aka the big axe line is the standard throwing line where players prepares for their throw, their back foot must begin completely behind the blue line.
– The Yellow line acts as the visual separation of throwers and spectators.
“Even with our set up, there will be [an] axe that comes to that red line. That’s why that line is there – to not cross that line at any point until both axes are on the floor and no one else is throwing,” stated Brewster. He explained how most bounce back occurrences happen when newer people that are throwing for the first time, but even then no injuries have happened at any of their locations.
Brewster doesn’t want the negative videos to turn people away from experiencing the act of throwing axes. “People are a little intimidated because they think it’s dangerous. I get it because I went through the same mindset. But with our Axeperts – our team members who train first timers – the end result is jubilation over their face from finally sticking their first axe,” he said.
For those wanting to perfect their throw, Civil Axe Throwing offers private lessons. Their space also welcomes for birthdays, corporate events, private parties and more
“Our main goal is to offer a fun and safe environment for every customer that walks through our doors. It’s thrilling once you give it a try,” said Brewster.
Civil Axe Throwing is located at 107 E. Markham St. Little Rock, Arkansas 72201. Hours of operation are Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. - 1 a.m. and Sunday 3 p.m. - 8 p.m. For booking information, visit https://www.civilaxethrowing.com/little-rock/.
Sources: Backyard Axe Throwing League, National Axe Throwing Federation
Axe throwing as a recreational sport made its first appearance 13 years ago, and now the phenomenon continues as more locations are making their homes in various cities and towns; one of which has made its way to Little Rock, Civil Axe Throwing. Scott Brewster says it’s an experience you have to get in on. Scott demonstrates his signature throw. “People are finding that it’s fun. There’s a competitive nature to axe throwing,” he said. To participate in Axe Throwing, you must wear close-toed shoes and be over the age of 14. Walk-ins are welcomed but booking through the website is preferred for less wait time. The team members, also known as Axeperts, give a 10-miunte training process in which they will show you how to hold the axe, how to throw the axe, what to do, where to stand, where not to go, when to go where, and when to throw. (Photos by Cait Smith)